With my mother’s birthday being tomorrow, I figured now is a good time to reflect on what she has taught me. As a teenager, I often focused on my mother’s flaws (like how she knew NOTHING, hehe, not true!). Into adulthood, I began to appreciate her many strengths and realized that the world would be a much better place if there were more people like her. Here are some of the best lessons I learned through my mother:
1. She did not praise everything that I did. While both she and I knew that I wasn’t going to be a super star athlete, mom encouraged my ability to relate to people of all ages.
2. She taught us that sometimes, giving to others isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. I remember giving away a favourite piece of clothing to someone that would wear it more often than I did. For the remainder of the day, I kept thinking about the item of clothing and regretting giving it away. When I talked with my mom about it, she shared that it’s good for us to practice giving away something that we like, to give away something that’s not easy to. By doing so, it helps us to not hold so tightly to our possessions. Also, we should give people our nice things and not just our garbage/yucky stuff that we ourselves wouldn’t use. This lesson really changed my perspective on giving.
3. She carried with her a perspective that we are rich! As a child, I hated wearing second hand clothes and we never had nearly as many toys and videos as our friends did. When my mother would tell us that we were so rich, I did NOT believe her. I thought we were poor. As I grew older, I now understand that she wasn’t comparing us to my friends. She was a) celebrating that we had our basic needs met and then some and b) she was thinking of others around the world who had much less than us. Her perspective has tremendously helped me as an adult when I think our house is too small, our vehicles too old, etc. I remind myself of the fact that, “we are rich!”, and this perspective causes me to want to give more to others.
4. “Giving to others” could be my mother’s middle name. The best thing about this? She isn’t just a mom has has given so much to her children. Or a mother who has given so much to her children and her church. She’s a mother who did those AND looked for opportunities to be a blessing to those outside of her circle. She looks out for the underdog, the people that others may miss ministering to and she finds ways to encourage them. She befriends the homeless. Mentors and loves new immigrants and refugees. She does the simple things like find shoes that fit a homeless man or brings a thanksgiving meal to one that may not eat today otherwise. My mother didn’t just teach us girls to give to others with our money and that’s where it ended. She modeled with her actions what loving others well can look like.
5. She sought opportunities to challenge herself. My mother would tell you that hospitality does not come naturally to her. She would often be stressed before having company over. The beautiful thing about this? She forced herself to do what did not come naturally again and again and again. Eventually, when I was a teenager, she had new immigrants to Canada come and live in our basement apartment! I love that she challenged herself to do what did not come naturally, and God has really blessed our family and others as a result.
I could continue writing about what my mother taught me about money (which has been tremendously helpful!) but I will end this post here. I guess the best “things” my mother taught me aren’t things at all. These life lessons have left imprints on my heart and I hope they will remain there forever.